I can just imagine many of you reading today’s blog about the benefits of a mock interview. You of whom I envision are thinking to yourselves, “I don’t like interviews, they’re so stressful! So why, when I don’t like them in the first place, would I voluntarily want to do more interviews? Especially when they aren’t even real! No thanks; interviews are painful, nerve-wracking and overall a negative experience to be avoided as much a possible. So a mock interview? No thank you!”
That’s a pretty strong reaction, but for many I’ve met over the years, it accurately sums up their feelings. They see choosing to ask for a mock interview like asking to have a root canal when there’s no need for one – just to be ready for the real thing if/when needed. Yep, a big NO.
The unfortunate reality of those who avoid the mock or practice interview is this: without practice, there’s no opportunity to get feedback and improve on their performance, so the outcome is performing poorly in the real thing. Poor interview performance of course leads to one thing; an unsuccessful outcome and having therefore to apply for more jobs and go to more interviews. Yet somehow, it seems preferable to some people to avoid all the research, practice, feedback, adjustments to delivery and just wing it. Not to sound trite but I ask you, “How’s that working out?”
Now there’s three possible outcomes you can arrive at when you typically go about interviewing by just winging it.
- You succeed and get a job offer
- You fail and keep on going about things the same way
- You fail and decide to get help and improve your odds of success
It’s that first one; that belief that despite the odds, you could succeed without ever having to go through practice interviews, that keeps people from seeking out help. It’s very much like a lottery; the odds are heavily stacked against you succeeding if you interview poorly, but there is that slim chance of success and you’ll hang on to that if it means avoiding practice interviewing. The irony is that the people who avoid mock interviews are typically the ones who could benefit the most.
So what goes on in a mock interview? Let me just say to be clear here, I’m not talking about a couple of questions you give your partner or close friend to ask here. The problem with these willing and well-intentioned people taking you through the mock interview is their reluctance to point out areas to improve because of your potential negative and volatile reaction to their feedback. And if we’re honest, you’re likely to dismiss what you don’t want to hear anyhow and tell them they don’t know what they are talking about because they aren’t an expert!
If the mock interview with friends or family works for you however, great. It’s a start and who knows, they might just observe and hit on some things that turn the experience around, helping you land that job offer. If so, well done everyone!
However, if you really want to maximize your odds of success, it’s good advice to seek out the support and feedback from a professional. Employment Coaches, Employment Counsellors and others who provide job search coaching are the people you’re after here. Many of these people can be contracted with at no charge through community social service organizations. If you’ve got the desire and the funds, you can also contract with a professional privately too.
Now, some of you I’m sure are raising the argument that if you’re out of work already and funds are tight, why on earth would you lay out your money and pay someone to put you through the mock interview? The answer of course is one you instinctively know already; if it increases your odds of success and getting offered a job, that’s money well spent. But I don’t want to appear to be just writing an ad for buying services people like me provide.
So what would a mock interview look like? Well, depending on the person you’re getting help from, it could look like this:
You meet and discuss how you’ve prepared in the past. Maybe a couple of questions get tossed out just to determine what you’ve been saying to date. From these, a baseline is established. An Employment Counsellor / Job Coach will provide feedback on:
- First Impressions (Clothing, Body Language, Handshake, Hygiene, Posture, Tone of Voice, Eye Contact)
- Answers (Quality, Length, Sticking To A Format Or Winging It, Are You Answering The Questions? Using Examples?)
- Suggestions For Improvement (Some Quick Improvements and Some Longer To Master)
- Final Impressions (Ideas On How To Wrap Up The Interview On A Positive)
Now of course this doesn’t include how to prepare for and follow up on your interviews; both of which are extremely important and both of which you’d get a lot of help with from a professional.
Interviewing methods evolve over time and how you may have succeeded in the past could no longer be working. I suppose the real question here is whether or not you are performing well enough in your job interviews to land job offers. If you’re getting a high percentage of interviews for those you apply to, and if those same interviews are resulting in job offers, you don’t need help.
If on the other hand, you seldom get interviews at all, and the ones you do get don’t result in job offers, do yourself a favour and think seriously about getting help – and that includes mock interviews and feedback.